A busload of trails

Another adventure with Chris Wright

We arrive at the campground carpark a little after 9am. We’ve been driving through mist since leaving The Black Spur, but the cloud cover looks low and I am hopeful we’ll be able to punch through it on our way up to 900 vertical metres, or at least see it burn off before the run gets tricky. I know what it is like to be up a mountain in a cloud, I’ve done both Pen-y-Fan and Snowdon in the UK.
The roos are out though, we’ve had a couple of near misses on the slow drive through the park to the campground, so I know we are not alone out here.

The plan today is to recce the next Trail Bus run, which is why I am standing at the base of the Cathedral Ranges on a Monday morning. We will climb up to the ridge, then traverse from Sugarloaf all the way to Little Cathedral, before working our way back down the side of the range and following the river back to the start – 20 kilometres, around 1000 metres of elevation.

Following Messmate Track we climb through gum tree forest along a trail which winds its way up the hill at a steady rate of about 100 metres per kilometre and it is within the first two kilometres that we clear the fog. At about the 4 kilometre mark, the trail levels out and we are running through a paddock of grasses, after a steady but conservative climb, it is nice to open up the legs.

After a brief stop at Sugarloaf Saddle we make our way along Canyon Track to Razorback Track and begin to climb. After a challenging but relatively easy (if you take your time) climb, I am standing on top of Sugarloaf Peak, all around me, the cloud sits low in the valleys, the smaller nearby peaks stick out the fog like islands in the ocean. I feel like I have been transported into a Final Fantasy game and I keep expecting to see an airship or some ancient leviathan emerge from the mist. The only other noises are the calls of lyre birds who are chitting, chirping and squawking their way through “The Big Book of Australian Birdcalls”. Above me is clear blue sky and the surprisingly warm sun, before me, the ridge extends, I can see all the way along it, all the way to the peak at Little Cathedral.

It take a while to get all the way along and throughout the day, the mist below doesn’t shift, we spend the entire day running on an island above the clouds, scrambling and balancing our way across the top of the ridge, running on small tracks which dip just below the ridge-line and, frequently, stopping to try and put the view into words. The words still fail me. But luckily Chris is the king of the camera and I can show you instead.

We don’t start our final descent from 900 metres above sea level until about 3pm and at 150 metres we hit the fog. After all day in the bright sunshine, it is strange being back in the fog, the sun is setting too and we are loosing the light, I feel like I have descended into some hellish landscape – not helping is a) we’ve been at this for nearly 6 hours and b) we’re running next to a recently cleared pine plantation.

It’s a long but rewarding day on the Cathedral Ranges and my third expedition with Trail Bus. If you are keen to get out on some trail runs with them (and me) then book onto their next tour – it’s worth it – we only do good trails.

Life / Work Balance

On Trail Bus’s recent expedition to Beeripmo, I got to combine my love of running with my love of media production and cut together a 1 minute teaser of the day. If the pics above have not convinced you to lace up your trailies and come out and play, them maybe this will:

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